Late-game blues

Ra­zor­backs run out of gas on road against Game­cocks.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - BOB HOLT

COLUMBIA, S.C. — In the end, it was all South Carolina.

The Game­cocks ral­lied to beat the Univer­sity of Arkansas men’s bas­ket­ball team 77-65 on Satur­day be­fore an an­nounced crowd of 12,374 at Colo­nial Life Arena by dom­i­nat­ing at crunch time.

South Carolina outscored the Ra­zor­backs 14-2 in the fi­nal 4:13 af­ter Arkansas had tied the game 63-63 on Jalen Har­ris’ jump shot.

“They got a good run go­ing and they took over the mo­men­tum,” Arkansas sopho­more guard Ma­son Jones said. “They just rode that mo­men­tum and took it home. “They just ran off with it.” The Ra­zor­backs (14-9, 5-5 SEC) shot 1 of 5 from the field and had 3 turnovers on their fi­nal 8 pos­ses­sions.

“We couldn’t score and then de­fen­sively I didn’t think we did a good job,” Arkansas Coach Mike An­der­son said of the fi­nal min­utes. “We may have run out of steam. I don’t know.”

South Carolina 6-9 se­nior for­ward Chris Silva scored 8 of the Game­cocks’ fi­nal 14 points — in­clud­ing a jump shot, 2 bas­kets in­side against 6-11 Daniel Gaf­ford and 2 free throws — and fin­ished with 16.

“Chris had two big-time post-up moves and fin­ished over Daniel Gaf­ford,” South Carolina Coach Frank Martin said. “Those are hard shots, and he made them both.

“It was fun for us to stay the course for 40 min­utes there.”

Be­fore Silva took over late, the Game­cocks (12-11, 7-3) were car­ried by fresh­man guard A.J. Law­son and fresh­man for­ward Keyshawn Bryant.

Law­son had 24 points, 7 re­bounds 3 as­sists and Bryant had 17 points. Law­son hit 8 of 12 shots and and Bryant 7 of 11.

“They made shots, made plays,” An­der­son said. “They at­tacked and made the open shots. We had some break­downs on de­fense and they made us pay for it.”

South Carolina took the lead for good on Silva’s bas­ket with 4:13 left, then kept pulling away by hit­ting 7 of its last 8 shots.

“We ran our of­fense the right way,” Martin said. “We ex­e­cuted of­fen­sively. Our spac­ing was good. Our de­ci­sion-mak­ing was good. So the ball went in for us.”

Martin said the Game­cocks played solid de­fense, but also were for­tu­nate the Ra­zor­backs’ only bas­ket in the fi­nal 3:11 was a layup by Har­ris.

“Com­ing down the stretch, we were solid with our cov­er­ages, but they missed some shots just plain and sim­ple,” Martin said. “They had some shots that just didn’t drop.”

Har­ris, a sopho­more point guard, led Arkansas with 17 points, but he shot 5 of 16 from the field and matched his sea­son-high with 5 turnovers.

Jones had 15 points, 4 as­sists and 2 steals.

Gaf­ford, a sopho­more for­ward and pro­jected firstround NBA Draft pick, was lim­ited to 22 min­utes be­cause of foul prob­lems and fin­ished with a sea­son-low 8 points, 5 re­bounds and 2 steals. He shot 4 of 5 from the field, missed his only free throw on a 1-and-1 at­tempt and had 2 turnovers.

“I don’t think he ever got in the rhythm that we needed him to be in,” An­der­son said of Gaf­ford. “Daniel did a lot of it to him­self.”

An­der­son was asked about Silva’s de­fense on Gaf­ford.

“[Silva’s] a good player,” An­der­son said. “But what hap­pened with Dan, I thought a lot was Dan’s do­ing.”

Gaf­ford didn’t play the fi­nal 15:24 of the first half af­ter pick­ing up his sec­ond foul, but the Ra­zor­backs led 35-31 at in­ter­mis­sion with the help of South Carolina com­mit­ting 15 turnovers.

The Ra­zor­backs opened the sec­ond half with a strong push and took a 50-37 lead with 15:36 left on ju­nior for­ward Adrio Bai­ley’s dunk.

South Carolina then outscored the Ra­zor­backs 22-4 over a 6:50 span — in­clud­ing 12 points by Law­son, who started the run with back-to­back three-point­ers — and moved ahead 59-54 on Bryant’s dunk with 8:46 left.

Arkansas regrouped and re­gained the lead 61-59 on Gaf­ford’s tip-in bas­ket, but Bryant tied it 61-61 on a re­bound based at the 5:42 mark.

The Ra­zor­backs never got the lead back.

“Very tough loss,” Jones said. “We all hurt right now, be­cause we should have won that game.”

South Carolina set­tled down against Arkansas’ pres­sure de­fense and had six turnovers in the sec­ond half.

Tak­ing bet­ter care of the ball and hit­ting three-point­ers brought the Game­cocks back.

South Carolina hit 10 of 15 three-point­ers af­ter com­ing into the game tied with LSU for 12th in the SEC in three­p­oint shoot­ing at 32.7 per­cent.

Law­son hit 4 of 5 three-point­ers and se­nior guard Has­sani Gravett hit 3 of 4.

“It def­i­nitely sur­prised me,” Jones said of the Game­cocks’ perime­ter shoot­ing. “They we made some good shots when they re­ally needed them. So props to them.”

South Carolina has been good enough from be­yond the arc this sea­son to hit 11 of 16 at Ge­or­gia and bad enough to open 0 of 18 against South Carolina-Up­state.

“I’m not go­ing to sit here and say we’re world-beat­ers shoot­ing threes,” Martin said. “But we’re bet­ter than the 12th team in the league.”

An­der­son said the Ra­zor­backs gave the Game­cocks too many good looks on the perime­ter.

“We had some as­sign­ments where we didn’t get out there on them,” An­der­son said. “When you’re wide open, you’re go­ing to knock them down.

“I think most teams in our league, if you leave them open, they’re go­ing to make shots.”

An­der­son said Arkansas also hurt it­self by tak­ing too many chances at times on de­fense.

“We had the game go­ing in the di­rec­tion we wanted to, and I thought we started gam­bling,” An­der­son said. “With an in­ex­pe­ri­enced team, that’s what hap­pens.

“You start gam­bling and they make you pay for it. All of a sud­den the mo­men­tum kind of shifted and it was game on.”

Spurs and Feath­ers/ALLEN SHARPE

Arkansas sopho­more guard Jalen Har­ris (5) gets off a shot be­tween South Carolina de­fend­ers dur­ing the Ra­zor­backs’ loss to the Game­cocks on Satur­day at Colo­nial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C. Har­ris led Arkansas with 17 points, but the Hogs’ five-game win­ning streak ended. See more pho­tos at arkansason­line.com/gal­leries.

Spurs and Feath­ers/ALLEN SHARPE

Arkansas for­ward Gabe Os­abuo­hien (22) drives to the bas­ket against South Carolina guard A.J. Law­son dur­ing the sec­ond half of the Ra­zor­backs’ 77-65 loss to the Game­cocks on Satur­day in Columbia, S.C.

Spurs and Feath­ers/ALLEN SHARPE

Arkansas guard Isa­iah Joe (1) sur­veys the de­fense dur­ing Satur­day’s game in Columbia, S.C. Joe tied for­mer Ra­zor­backs guard Pat Bradley for the sec­ond-most three-point­ers in a sea­son by an Arkansas fresh­man with 82.

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